Title: The Enemy Beside You

Author: Arldetta

Rating: PG-13

Summary: This is an AU of TPM. However, this is Not and Obidala or slash fic. And there is no Jar-Jar. This is a unique take on the world of Star Wars please read and review.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. All characters owned by Lucas, Fox, Watson and Scholastic. Also, I would like to acknowledge that in future chapters there will be sentences that are identical or similar to those in the movie and novelization. I can take no credit in writing them. You should be able to recognize these segments, and I apologize to those who are disturbed by this.

Author's note: All thoughts have been encased in 's and all mental messages are in {}'s. Also, anything spoken in different languages are in [ ]'s. And I would really like feed back, so don't be afraid to write. Thanks for reading.

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The planet was barren and dry, but amazingly enough sentient beings still inhabited the rock. Twin suns parched the land every sunrise, only allowing a slight reprieve during their absence. At this moment two beings and a droid headed for one of the few spaceports that signified life. The leader of the group was a tall man with Herculean features. His long brown hair draped his shoulders. Grey streaks belied his middle-aged face. His stance and stature conveyed confidence and wisdom. His commoner's poncho hid the Jedi attire beneath it. As they approached the rim of the spaceport the Jedi Master glanced back at the handmaiden sent with him. The woman had also been clad in clothes that would better their anonymity. The Queen had requested that one of her attendants join him on his quest to learn about their refuge. Trailing behind the seventeen-year-old was a white and blue astromech droid answering to the call sign R2-D2. "Padmé, stay close to me, these places are full of scum and villainy. Danger is always present." The girl nodded and even in common clothes and her hair pulled back with braids, she still had a regal air about her. They continued on through the street until they found a number of dealer hutches. Stopping under an overhang, Qui-Gon pulled out his commlink. "Padawan, I have found some Merchants, I will keep you informed with the proceedings. Is everything alright there?"

"Yes, Master. No problems. I hope you will find what we need quickly." Came the dutiful response.

"Me too. Qui-Gon out." Clipping the comm back to his belt, he made his way to the closest shop. As they walked in, a chime announced their entrance.

A blue Toydarian flew out from behind a counter to greet them. "What can I help thee with?"

The Jedi stated their purpose, "I need parts for a J-type 327 Nubian."

A light shown in the floating creature's eyes briefly before he recovered his dealer's prowess. "Nubian, eh? We have lots of that." He hovered around the trio and called behind him, "[Boy! Get in here now!]" Qui-Gon noted the malice in the voice but paid it no heed. "Let me take thee out back to look around." The Toydarian glanced back with an annoyed expression. He tapped a controller on his hip and called again, "[Boy! I said get out here!]" A soft whimper was heard around a corner. Cautiously, a young boy came from the junkyard into the shop room. His hair was disheveled and dangled over his eyes. The ginger coloring barely recognizable through the dirt and grease. A bruise glistened on the boy's right cheekbone. But what grabbed the newcomers' attention were the beautiful sea change eyes that exposed the emotions that lay deep inside. The boy only made brief eye contact as he remembered his station. The two visitors were captivated by what they saw they barely heard the conversation between them.

"[I'm sorry, Master. I didn't hear you.]" The boy had said in a voice so soft that they had to strain to hear it.

"[Don't cross me. I have customers. I'll deal with you later.]" The words were spoken with a severity that made the two outsiders wince. But the tone changed as he turned to address the Jedi. "Come, come. Let me show you what we have," as he proceeded to lead the customer out to the grounds.

Qui-Gon began to follow, but quickly remarked, "Wait here, this shouldn't take long." Padmé wanted to protest but thought better of it. Instead she watched the young boy head over to the counter and pull himself up to sit and wait. As she watched his cowed movements her eyes lighted upon a thin strip of metal that encircled the boy's neck. A control collar. She realized. It only confirmed what she had already guessed at. The boy is a slave. Her eyes drifted upward and she noticed he was watching her in turn. Shameful of her manners she turned away feeling suddenly uneasy in his presence.

"Forgive me," he said quickly in response to her motions, "I should not have stared at you, your highness. It is bad manners, and you may punish me if you like." He scrambled off his perch and knelt in front of the maiden with his head bowed. He waited for his reprimand.

"How, how did you know?" Shock caused her to stammer briefly. The youth had completely taken her off guard. She could not believe he had figured out her rouse.

"I can see it in everything about you. I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable. Please do as you will with me. Watto, wouldn't mind. And I think I would prefer your punishment over his." The pleading voice barely made it to her ears, but finally she registered his request.

"Get up, I'm not going to punish you." Padmé reached down to pull the child to his feet. His head remained bowed. "Although I am surprised that you figured out who I am."

"No, your highness, I don't know who you are, I just know your status. And," He hesitated, using his senses he interpreted his true error. "You wanted to remain hidden! And I almost cost you your cover. Please, please, forgive me. I should have known sooner." The boy fell back down to the floor.

"It's alright, no one was here to find out. Don't worry yourself." She tried to comfort. "Please get up, it's alright." She urged the child to stand.

Just then Qui-Gon came back in, "We're leaving." He stated curtly. And continued toward the door. The Toydarian followed slowly behind until he saw the boy on the ground.

Quickly, assessing the scene, he questioned, "What did he do?"

"Nothing, it's ok. Only a misunderstanding." Padmé tried to cover up the incident. Qui-Gon paused to wait for the girl. The Toydarian hovered above the cowering figure.

"[What did you do?]" The dealer asked again sternly. Directing his question to his servant now.

Not knowing what to say he quickly blurted out, "[I insulted her accidentally.]" He did not want to reveal her identity, well at least her status, since he determined she was trying to keep it secret. It was the first thing that popped into his mind. He looked up at his owner and waited for his judgement. Watto glared at the slave and tapped the controller on his belt. A low hum could be heard, as the boy grabbed at his neck and clenched his eyes. A soft moan escaped the felon's lips.

The Toydarian turned back to the attendant and declared, "A mistake to be sure, but it won't happen again, Miss. My apologies for the boy's behavior." He floated up to the girl.

Appalled by what had just transpired, Padmé couldn't even respond. She stole one more glance at the gasping youth at her feet before turning to follow Qui-Gon out. Once outside she addressed the Jedi Master. "How could you let that happen? He didn't do anything wrong." Her disgust apparent in her voice.

"This is not Naboo, and as much as we may not like it, it is the way things are done here. We must maintain a low profile. Come, I have some thinking to do." He responded to her coldly. He was still agitated by his conversation with the junk dealer.

"Did you get the parts?" She asked realizing that they walked out with nothing. She tried to push the images of the past few minutes out of her mind.

"No." And he left it at that. They continued on through the busy streets. Qui-Gon was deep in thought and Padmé remained disturbed. They found themselves in a quiet alleyway, when the Jedi Master suddenly stopped. From around the corner, two aliens blocked their path. Qui-Gon turned around to go back the way they came, when two more ruffians entered the street. They were quickly and effectively trapped.

A human came out from behind the first two aliens to address their captives. "This can be really simple. All we want is your possessions. And then you can go."

"It's not that simple. We don't have anything valuable." Qui-Gon countered. His hand carefully making it's way to his lightsaber hilt.

"Then I guess we'll have to make our profits from selling you." And with that statement all hell broke loose. Blaster fire ricocheted around them. The green blade swiftly returned the shots back in the direction they came. The Jedi Master abruptly moved to protect his companion but it proved difficult coming from two directions. Padawan, never around when I need you? He thought fleetingly to himself before bringing his concentration back to the fight at hand. He subdued the three on his left and turned to deflect the shots coming from his right. This time the bolts hit their mark and knocked the thugs off their feet. He noted the one withdrawal while the other lay still on the ground. That's when he felt a surge in the Force. But he was not quick enough to respond to it's call.

A blaster shot aimed for the Queen's handmaiden soared towards it's target. When suddenly a small figure ran out into it's path. The person faced the outsiders as the red fire burned into the aide's back. Qui-Gon recuperated and deflected the last of the shots back to their origin. Another burglar fell as the others made their hasty retreat. Once the threats had left Qui- Gon made his way to the fallen ally and Padmé. He recognized their deliverer; the scruffy beaten boy from the Junkyard they had just left. Padmé was cradling the youth in her arms. Tears filled her eyes as they pleaded with the Jedi to do something. He squatted down and took the child from her. Quickly, he made his way down streets and avenues until he finally spotted a meek infirmary. Padmé and R2-D2 followed at his heels.

Once inside, he called out, "This boy needs some help!" An elderly woman stepped into the foyer from a back room. She immediately assessed the problem and hurried toward the Jedi and the victim.

"Give him here." She said, and then acknowledged the injured. Realization ran over her as she looked down upon the face she knew so well. "Oh, Obi- Wan, what's happened to you?" She cried as she promptly took him back for care.

Qui-Gon watched the woman head off as he reached down for his commlink. He signaled the ship and the response came back swiftly. "Yes, Master?"

The Master continued to follow Padmé and the healer to the back room. "Anakin, we've had some problems come up."

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